So you like wine but feel intimidated by it. You know… what should I spend… how do I choose… the food pairing… serving… storing, the list goes on? If you are like us, it all began with the casual glass. Then you began paying more attention to what was actually in the glass. Once you realize wine is more than just a simple drink, the urge to know more begins. Face it, if you did not care, inexpensive jug wine would do just fine.
Most of us start out small. You find a certain store you like with a good selection. Read labels and ask questions, nothing wrong with this as a start.We began by making friends with sales people, asking questions, you know a little wine talk. There are no dumb questions when you are paying for the wine so talk it up. Try tastings which are advertised all the time, many local wine shops will sponsor them, and occasionally have small private tastings at thier stores (be-careful driving). Also, limited tastings of one or two wines for all customers are becoming more popular, even at your local supermarket liquor store. Stop and have a taste, talk wine, and you will really learn what is in the glass. Sample many different types of wines, take notes, record your impressions, and list prices if available. Your confidence will build in evaluating and choosing wines.
On our first trip to Napa, we hired a guided wine tour car.
We gave our guide a list of places we wished to visit. We became quite friendly with our driver and he gave us a little input on our selection of wineries. He called us Label Lizards! Yes Label Lizards. Very funny, yet his point was to get beyond the label. We all know the big name labels, and tend to head to them.
He was pushing us to expand our knowledge beyond the well known and distributed label. Well we trashed the list and he chose the last four stops, all of which we had never tried or heard of, and all excellent! The point here is not be afraid to try new wines. There are many smaller wineries that do not market heavily yet have fantastic wines; these are typically boutique type wineries. In some cases you won’t find their wines in the average wine store, in fact, some can only be purchased at the winery itself. Not to worry though, if you find a favorite in one of these wines, almost all wineries offer club memberships or direct purchases and shipping.
Remember, you can begin your journey at your local wine shop, and move on to tastings and wineries. There are many knowledgeable people to answer your questions. Pick up a book, subscribe to a magazine, and hit the internet. Most of all have fun, experiment, talk wine, and expand your knowledge.
How many times while shopping at your favorite wine store have you noticed descriptions of wine selections with numbers like 87 or 90? Below is the rating system used for those numbers you see.
The point system most widely used today for rating wines, was devised by Robert Parker Jr. Based on 50-100 points, (all wines get a base of 50 points). It replaced the old 20 point system.
96-100 excellent to extraordinary
80-89 barely above average to very good
60-69 below average
Note that scores are just that…numbers. The written commentary that goes along with all scores is what gives you the real information on the wine.
For more in depth information see our links for Robert Parkers site
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